A slightly adapted formation worked wonders for Chelsea, as a more solid-looking outfit soaked up an abundance of Valencia pressure to run out 3-0 winners at Stamford Bridge.
Andre Villas-Boas had insisted there would be no dramatic shift in his tactics, though a more deep-lying nature was clearly evident in their defensive line, and the use of Oriol Romeu in a holding midfield role shored up the side no end.
Following finishing atop of Group E in light of Leverkusen managing only a draw at Genk, Chelsea are now priced at 12/1 to claim that elusive first Champions League title.
They will eagerly await the draw for the knockout phase on Friday December 16, noting that they are likely to gain a better draw than expected having eventually won the group against the odds.
Boss Villas-Boas was quick to condemn the press who had written off his team, citing the result as a “slap in the face,” whilst also commenting to the BBC that he believed it is “unfortunate on the media that you have to report on a brilliant Chelsea win.”
The Portuguese manager is upset at a perceived witch hunt against his side, and also outlined his frustrations that Manchester City aren’t condemned or pressured in the same way his charges are.
“The coverage for us has been over the top. I hope Manchester City qualify for the Champions League knockout stage, but the attitude to them is; if they qualify they qualify, if they don’t they don’t – we don’t get that margin.”
Whilst triumphing in ruthless fashion last night, the former Porto coach could be inviting further media pressure on his team in future by being so outspoken.
In what way this affects his team remains to be seen, it was certainly positive last night, and the us-against-the-world mentality Villas-Boas seems to be attempting to create, could prove fruitful for Chelsea in the near future.